Five Budget Eateries to Grab Lunch in Çeşme
photo by bergerx

Summertime is just around the corner. Çesme is one of the best places in Turkey for an active or relaxing vacation. It is a bustling summer resort 70 km from Izmir, where shopping streets, restaurants, trendy cafes, cocktail lounges, and nightclubs rival for your attention. Whether you go to Çesme with your family, your girlfriend, or your buddies, there are many things to do there. You can hit the famous Aya Yorgi Beach Club, sign up for a boat tour to the Island of Chios, windsurf in the Alaçati Bay, or have a daily visit to the famous Kemeralti Bazaar in Izmir. There are many food options for Çesme and Alaçati found in guidebooks, but most of them are expensive. There are some budget eating options which are well known by the locals, but not by the visitors. If you want to have a wallet-friendly holiday in this vibrant summer resort, here are five budget eateries to grab a lunch.

Kumrucu Sevki and Kumrucu Hüseyin
Çesme is famous with its ‘kumru’. The Turkish sandwich kumru means ‘turtledove’, getting its name from its turtledove-shaped sesame-seed bread. It is filled with grilled sausage, Hungarian salami, yellow cheese, tomato, and green pepper. It is a popular delicacy, especially in the summer months. You should definitely consider the two places below if you want to experience this fabulous street food in Çesme. The first place is Kumrucu Sevki, located at Ilica. The business was started by Arif and Sevki Çilek brothers in the 1980s. It has become a landmark of Ilica since then. Sevki has become so famous that his counterfeits have been opened in other cities in the following years. Although Sevki has made kumru sandwich widely known by masses in Turkey, he is not the first person introducing it into the culinary literature of Turkey. It was Kumrucu Hüseyin, who opened the first kumru kiosk in Çesme in 1966. Unlike his rivals, he remains loyal to the original recipe he invented and does not use mayonnaise and ketchup. He has two branches in Cesme, one located across the Sheraton Hotel, the other at Ilica. Try mixed kumru at either place. It consists of sausage, salami, and cheese, and does not cost more than 5 TL. Both ‘kumrucu’s are open for 365days/24 hours.

Imren Lokantasi
Imren Lokantasi is an important budget-eatery you will simply not miss in Çesme. The business was started in 1953 by the Kadagan brothers, who migrated from Yugoslavia. They introduced the delicacies of the Balkans into the town. Imren Lokantasi has been offering traditional home-cooked food for more than half a century. They have a lot of good stuff, but papaz yahnisi (priest’s fricassee) is their specialty. It is a whole baked carp stuffed with rice, similar to Poland’s orechki. This mouthwatering dish costs only 7,50 TL. Keep in mind that it papaz yahnisi is offered only between April and September. Open all seasons, Imren Lokantasi serves between noon and 11 p.m. It is located on the Inkilap Caddesi at the center of the town.

Yusuf Usta
Yusuf Usta is another budget-friendly choice where you will never pay more than 10 TL for a three or four course meal. The menu includes döner, lahmacun, varieties of pide, as well as vegetarian items. Yusuf Usta’s famous table d’hote consists of a choice of soup and main, rice, and dessert. It is cheap, clean, healthy, and tasty. It is located in Alaçati, across the Total gas station.

Dost Pide
The last budget tip on food in Çesme is Dost Pide. Although it has recently become a chain throughout Izmir, its birthplace is Ilica. The delicious pide (Turkish pizza) at Dost is prepared either with spinach, yellow cheese, or casseroled meat in the wood-fired oven. Single portion costs only 7 TL. In the summer months it is open 24 hours, whereas during the winter it closes at 10 p.m.

Meet the author


Onur Inal was born in Izmir, Turkey in 1979. He studied Political Science and International Relations at Yeditepe University. Onur has an M.A from Koç University's Anatolian Civilizations and Cultural Heritage Management program. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the History Department of the University of Arizona.

Onur is one of the founders of Sırtçantalılar, a group of budget travelers in Turkey. In addition to his cultural history book about the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, Pera'dan Beyoğlu'na, he has written articles about travel, history, and culinary culture for various newspapers and magazines in Turkey.